Twas the Night before Free Agency
Twas the night before free agency, when all through the NHL
Not a GM was stirring, not even Brian Burke’s cell.
The fax machines were shiny and humming with tender care,
In hopes that some overpriced UFA soon would be there.
The hockey fans were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of one-dimensional Russian forwards danced in their heads.
As Gary Bettman talks league growth, CBA, and the salary cap,
Stan Bowman, Holmgren, Lombardi, and Sather all have taken a nap.
When suddenly from the blogosphere tweeted such a clatter,
I tuned to the rumor sites to see what was the matter.
TSN, PuckDaddy, HockeyIndependent (hey, my poem!), Spector, all read in a flash
Blogs, Twitter, pod casts, message boards, Burt the Dog, my fingers in mad dash
As noon breaks, we will all cling to our chosen online hockey info and rumor schmaltz
Whether it be Dreger, McKenzie, LeBrun, Allen, Marek, Eklund or even Allan Walsh.
When, suddenly knocking upon my door I open it with concern and fear,
In walks one Stan Fischler after quaffing way too much free beer.
With that vim and vigor, so opinionated and misbehaving,
I knew in a moment it most certainly had to be The Maven!
More rapid than his love for the NJ Devil Marty Brodeur
he whistled, screamed, shouted and then spat upon my floor.
“Now Gallof! I’ve seen you trying to yank my chain,
How you and your online cronies love to be a real pain!
How you complain, make fun, and criticize with such gall,
When I say: “There’s been nobody better than Scott Stevens, except for Marc Staal!”
FREE AGENT FRENZY
All it takes is one playoff team on the cusp to lose their mind and panic… sending the rest of the teams into a tizzy. One extra million to slew the entire market. One GM on the line to push a bit, then all the rest to hit the panic button.
Add to all this the salary cap and league minimum, you’ll see the usual goofy inflation as all markets need to dip into their churning waters.
The primary players are always the bigger more lucrative markets. Unless of course, they’ve pushed themselves against the cap. Then again, it did end up working for Chicago, who slammed themselves against the cap, but reaped the rewards.
Besides them, there are always greedy eyes, thinking it is the great equalizer. Sure, it is usually the great equalizer that bloats a team into severe limitations or spends the off-season backpedaling from previous mistakes (calgary, I’m looking at you, but you sure have a lot of company).
What determines market is supply and demand. New ownerships, GMs on the firing line, or just a poor showing in the playoffs can cause an organization to press hard into the choppy waters.
Smaller markets or teams on the rebuild need to sit back and seek the right fits. Can they appeal with offers of playing time or feature opportunities? You’d lean towards thinking no, yet there are successful relations built on this each season, while everyone is paying attention to the big fish.
One former GM told me that July 1st was the day you’d send out a series of faxes with at least a 10 to 20% above market value. Then you’d hopefully get a response from an agent or two.
Other GMs sit and wait to see what takes place. Who is asking for too much. Who is pricing themselves out of market. Who is not quite getting something they are happy with.
We have had years of quick and rapid deals. We have years of watching the pot boil.
I’d expect to see a lot of activity right off bat at noon time. Chicago’s success, despite their forced hand to make trades after season, is still a success story. They held onto their core, and still remain a force.
Some teams will jump in and try to land the big fish.
Then the waters will calm and things will slow down.
Unfortunately, most teams will be left cold, because in the end, besides that money talks, it is also a organizational popularity contest. Players have families and must decide on much more than just dollar and cents, they need to judge area, organization, venue and much more.
The day is always of more hype than reality, more excitement than actual action, yet it is a day that we all wait for with bated breath. It’s like Xmas in July. A few presents will be unwrapped that will excite a few fanbases. Others, a bit of coal.
Good luck. Make sure to tune in with us at our live chat show that starts at 11am. Special guests will stop by.
About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.